Keeping the campus safe in a complex environment
- By Nick Valdez
- August 01, 2021
Educational campuses are busy, complex
environments. Amidst all the
bustle, there are countless discreet
traffic interactions governing whether
people and vehicles make it to their
destinations safely and smoothly. Managing
these interactions is a multifaceted challenge
that demands a wide array of solutions
encompassing everything from traffic management
and parking revenue, to pedestrian
safety and emergency preparedness.
For students, faculty, and staff on campus,
these solutions are invisible. A student rushing
to class or a faculty member moseying
across campus for lunch has little interest in
why their transit is smooth and safe just so
long as it is exactly that. For campus administration
and security, however, the specifics
of managing campus traffic and security are
hugely important. During major campus
events such as graduation ceremonies or
sporting events, even the slightest security
hiccup can derail an entire day, or much
worse. Understanding the solutions necessary
to address issues proactively is vital.
To better understand where and how to
influence traffic without interrupting campus
activities, let’s dive into the specific solutions
behind campus traffic management.
Campus Entry Points
Entry points represent a significant opportunity
to shape a campus’s traffic environment; they are one of the areas where school
administration has the most ability to exert
control over the movement of people and
vehicles. As a result, there are a variety of
security and traffic management goals one
may look to pursue for these entry points.
First, entry points are an opportunity to
regulate the nature and volume of vehicles.
There is a constant, wide range of reasons for
vehicles to enter a campus, most of which are
perfectly appropriate. However, authorizing
and pacing throughput is both a prudent risk
management strategy and a measure against
The entry point solution must serve several
different goals. It should slow down
arrivals, so vehicles do not enter campus at
high speeds, enhancing pedestrian safety. It
should optimize throughput to avoid backups,
while deterring cut-throughs or otherwise
Finally, it must allow industrial vehicles to
enter campus, since moving trucks and commercial
vehicles are commonplace visitors.
Though these goals may seem difficult to
realize through only a single solution, sometimes
complex problems have simple
answers. A barrier arm, designed to raise and
lower for the regulation of routine traffic is
efficient, versatile, and visible, making it an
effective entry regulation tool.
For example, consider the StrongArm
from HySecurity. With a cycle speed of just
two seconds to open and three to close, the
StrongArm will slow traffic without allowing
it to stack. Its 90-degree open angle allows
for even the largest industrial vehicles to
enter. The speed and flexibility of barrier
arms like the StrongArm has distinct advantages
over slide or swing gate solutions,
which feature far larger entrapment zones
where pedestrians may become injured.
Given the less-than-judicious tendencies
of college-aged populations, prioritizing
additional safety measures like UL325 compliance
and soft-start/soft-stop pacing is yet
another measure barrier arms take to protect
pedestrians. For maximum safety, many barrier
arms use a “breakaway arm.” In the event
of a vehicle strike, this feature allows for
damage to the arm without endangering the
device’s more valuable motor or chassis.
Maintenance staff can then bolt the arm back
on after a crash rather than having to replace
an entire system.
LED lighting on the arm allows drivers to
see the barrier arm from a distance, giving
them time to slow down or deterring those
whose intent is to cut through campus. By
nature, people taking a shortcut are likely to
move at faster pace than normal traffic so
dissuading these surplus, speedy vehicles is a
beneficial safety step.
Parking is the next logical step on the traffic
flow chart. Providing parking that is accessible
and well-regulated is instrumental in getting
vehicles efficiently on and off campus roadways.
Parking can also be a productive source
of revenue generation for a school. Thus, a
secondary goal of campus traffic management
teams should be to introduce forced stops at
parking garage entrances where drivers must
take a ticket stub or scan an RFID fob to
ensure faculty and staff are parking vehicles in
their appropriate locations.
Entrances to parking areas serve a similar
purpose as campus entry points. Barrier
arms are therefore suited to this application
as well, particularly when deployed with an
articulating arm like the HySecurity Strong-
Arm Park. Unlike a traditional rigid arm, an
articulating arm bends using an elbow to
provide traffic management in an environment
where space is limited. This allows
articulating barrier arms to fit into parking
garage environments where ceiling clearance
may be lower or other constraints may be
present. The cycle speed and visibility of such
arms mirror that of rigid arms, allowing
them to function in parking areas with the
same efficiently they do at campus entry points.
Getting vehicles into and out of parking
areas efficiently is always going to be an operational
goal and incorporating fail-safes in the
event of power outages is key. For this reason,
the StrongArm Park includes a DC-UPS backup.
It also features advanced reporting and
monitoring capabilities via HyNet that can
integrate with existing hardware and software,
alerting security when parts are non-operational
or damaged. Further intelligence can be
built into these machines to count and communicate
capacity status as well.
A typical campus will have multiple parking
areas, and these spaces may not have
identical entrance dimensions. Identifying a
barrier arm manufacturer who can provide arms suitable for any and all of these locations, regardless of clearance
or berth is a smart step to take. This will ease replacement, maintenance,
and on-going service, as built-in logic can send alerts to that
manufacturer if a product needs service before campus staff even
detect an issue.
Stadiums and Campus Buildings
Though not every school has a stadium designed to fit hundreds of
thousands of spectators, nearly all have athletic facilities or largescale
event venues. The chief traffic-related goals around these spaces
must always be guest safety, specifically during mass pedestrian entry
and exit from the stadium or arena grounds. Unlike academic buildings
or dining halls, where there may be a pair of entrances and a
small courtyard, large venues like a stadium can potentially have dozens
of entry points with expansive external pedestrian areas, often
used for ticketing, event promotions, or simply as gathering points.
These areas must be kept clear of vehicle traffic without interrupting
the flow of pedestrian foot-traffic for a safe and smooth event.
That said, there are times where vehicles may need to enter these
spaces, such as in the event of an emergency. That means barriers
used to prevent vehicle ingress must be strong enough for Hostile
Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) purposes while still movable enough to be
removed quickly for time-sensitive situations.
Aesthetics are another valid priority for traffic management decision-
makers. Event venues are often marketing tools for the schools
they serve, meaning their outward appearance carries great value.
Stadium traffic management solutions must then facilitate as safe,
streamlined and scenic a fan experience as possible.
For decades, schools have tried to tackle this objective by using
jersey barriers, the unwieldy and unattractive products constantly
seen on the sides of highways and around construction zones. A far
more effective and elegant solution is the active bollard. Much like a
traditional static bollard, an active bollard is anchored to the ground,
giving it an advantage for HVM purposes over untethered jersey barriers.
They are also made of more durable – and standardized – materials
than jersey barriers, which are typically built from leftover concrete
or cheap hard plastic. Their size and shape present less of a
target for tagging or other vandalism, and with color customizable
caps and lighting, they are more attractive as well.
When jersey barriers are arranged to prevent vehicular access into
a certain area, their length funnels pedestrians towards crowded
chokepoints. Active bollards create a much more breathable foot-traffic environment where fans are evenly dispersed. Active bollards
also don’t require a crew with heavy machinery to deploy or remove
them, saving time and cost.
The most effective feature of active bollards as a traffic management
solution in stadium spaces is that they are active, meaning they
can be lowered fully into the ground when not in use. This flexibility
means traffic management administrators can be prepared for emergency
situations without holding personnel on standby to move barriers.
To illustrate, imagine a student suffers an injury during an event
and needs an ambulance to enter an area typically off-limits to vehicles.
While jersey barriers will take minutes to move, active bollards
can lower in seconds.
In addition to stadia and arenas, academic buildings and housing
may need protection from vehicles. The same strategies that regulate
stadium traffic can also safeguard these structures. Strategically
deployed static and active bollards around buildings can prevent accidental
vehicle strikes while promoting healthy pedestrian foot traffic
as faculty, staff and others keep to their busy schedules.
Simple can be Smart
For school administrators, architects, and campus security, ensuring
the safety of faculty, staff and visitors to campus is paramount. Well designed
traffic management is a fundamental aspect of that goal.
Barrier arms and bollards can do far more than allow vehicular and
pedestrian traffic to flow is a controlled manner.
Modern products allow the owner to add intelligence and integrate
these solutions into larger systems, such as parking or campus alerts
systems. They can provide detailed reporting on damage and suggest
predictive maintenance to the appropriate contact. Though they literally
exist to impede traffic, they never stand in the way of campus
safety and security. Instead, they make traffic management and emergency
prevent and response smoother in innumerable invisible ways.
Take this common scenario for example: a student or faculty member
is walking across campus and finds themselves in sudden need for
emergency assistance. They activate the closest emergency blue light
box and wait for assistance from the proper authorities – often campus
security or medical staff.
If the right solution has been planned for, specified, and built into
campus safety and security systems, help will arrive much faster. An
intelligent traffic management solution can actively remove the barriers
between the distressed individual and the people coming to their
aid. Barrier arms can automatically be raised to allow an ambulance
faster entrance to campus.
Active bollards can be lowered to give campus security vehicles a
clear path. The end result is a faster, more prompt response to those
Though schools’ individual traffic management needs will vary, the
need to manage the flow of traffic – vehicular and pedestrian – is
paramount to the safety and security of all. The best traffic management
solutions always improve the campus experience, managing the
pace of and volume of vehicle traffic and preserving the beauty of the
grounds –and, in the event of an emergency, they proactively transform
to meet the current need. When tasked with the safety and security
of hundreds, if not thousands, planning for incidents is the best
This article originally appeared in the July / August 2021 issue of Campus Security Today.